“Get At Least Five Grams of Sodium a Day”
This episode is all about electrolytes, sodium, and busting myths around sodium-electrolyte phobias.
Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist and 2X New York Times/Wall Street Journal Best-selling author of The Paleo Solution and Wired To Eat. He and co-author Diana Rodgers recently released their book, Sacred Cow, which explains why well-raised meat is good for us and good for the planet. Robb has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world via his top-ranked iTunes podcast, books and seminars. He’s known for his direct approach and ability to distill and synthesize information to make the complicated stuff easier to understand.
In this podcast, Debunking Myths About Sodium, we cover:
- Why you need more salt with a low-carb lifestyle
- The reasons why electrolytes are essential for fasting
- The amount of sodium that you should intake each day
- Does sodium really cause high blood pressure?
- The effects of sodium intake on insulin sensitivity
Electrolytes: Why You Need More When You’re Fasting
If somebody goes on a low-carb ketogenic diet, usually there’s a ton of focus on protein, carbs, and fats. There is no discussion typically of electrolytes, specifically sodium. If a doctor or dietician is helping with a low-carb diet, they will make certain that the individual gets at least five grams of sodium a day. There is a loss of sodium associated with fasting. Hyperinsulinemia, refined carbohydrates, and too many calories can be massive problems. Another problem is not enough sodium. The loss of sodium associated with fasting is jaw-dropping. We have to balance sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and all these other electrolytes.
Low Potassium Levels and Fasting
Some common problems people have with fasting: they can’t sleep at night, their legs are aching, and their low back is aching. There is some research connecting restless legs with low potassium. Muscle agitation and nerve pain can come from low potassium. What is happening is that their sodium levels are dropping. Then the body started dumping potassium to try to balance the sodium and potassium. The most horrible thing that the person could do in that scenario is to dose on potassium; they will die. Lethal injections are a super-concentrated solution of potassium.
Modern diets are potassium deficient, without a doubt. People are mainly eating prodigious amounts of processed foods. 70% of the food consumed in the United States is now considered hyper-processed. Folks can get into a dangerous scenario in which they are potassium depleted, but it’s potassium depletion on the heels of sodium depletion.
Sodium Mixed With A Minimally Processed Diet
For a lot of people salting their food with table salt is not enough. We can gauge that based on symptoms like foggy-headedness, fatigue, and cramping. When you look at traditional cultures, they put a lot of salt in their diet. They typically have a lot of sodium in the mix of an otherwise whole food minimally processed diet. The real challenge starts emerging when we have a nutrient-devoid highly-processed diet plus a lot of sodium.
How Much Sodium Do You Need Each Day?
How much sodium do you need each day? Well, it depends. Some people only need five grams of sodium a day from all dietary sources and supplemental sources. While other people need sodium up to 12 to 15 grams per day, depending on the person. Big guys playing hockey will lose 10 pounds of water and 10 grams of sodium in a two-hour game just from their sweat. Robb has seen petite females competing in the CrossFit Games that need 15 grams of sodium a day because they’re super high motor output. For the most part, five grams of sodium per day is the bare minimum. You can eat olives, pickles, salami, and sardines to get more sodium.
Does Sodium Raise Blood Pressure?
Sodium can and does raise blood pressure, but we need context. If you are fasting, and you’re experiencing almost hypovolemic shock, when you go from seated to standing, and you almost pass out, you need to raise your blood pressure. If your heart is beating out of your chest because of low blood volume, and you’re getting cardiac arrhythmias because your heart is working overtime, you need elevated blood pressure. We need to be careful is if somebody is insulin resistant, borderline diabetic, and they’re what’s called a sodium-sensitive hyper responder, they can get a significant increase in their blood pressure from a large bolus of sodium. The problem isn’t the sodium. The problem is the food that the person is eating that is making them insulin resistant.
High Sodium Is A Problem If Insulin Is High
If insulin is high and sodium is high, now we have a problem. A highly-processed diet usually facilitates chronically elevated insulin. The things that people tend to overeat are fat carb combos. One thing that makes food taste better is sodium: it’s a key ingredient in processed foods. There seems to be guilt by association when it comes to sodium and health. Eating suitable salt with the proper diet combined with fasting will work. However, people still believe that salt is bad for you because it causes high blood pressure. It’s not the cause of high blood pressure; it’s just one fraction of the story.
Robb Wolf 0:00
If one wants to eat low carb or just less refined food, we really need to address electrolytes, in particular sodium. That just isn’t something that’s part of the common discussion within low carb arenas. And within fasting, I would say it borders on a dumpster fire.
Dr. Mindy 0:18
I am a woman on a mission that is dedicated to teaching you just how powerful your body was built to be. I like to do that by bringing you the latest science, the greatest thought leaders and applicable steps that help you tap into your own internal healing power. The purpose of this podcast is to give you the power back and help you believe in yourself again, my name is Dr. Mindy Pels. And I want to thank you for spending part of your day with me. On this episode of The recenter podcast, I bring you another brilliant mind. So you guys who have been following me for a while know that I love deep conversations with people and this one provides an incredible depth to the topic of everything from electrolytes to amino acids, to how much protein do we need to how do we change metabolic health for the world. This who you’re gonna hear is Rob Wolf. And if you’re not familiar with Rob Wolf, let me tell you a little bit about him. He is a biochemist, and he is a two time New York Times bestselling author and Wall Street Journal best selling author. He has two books, The Paleo Solution, and sacred cow. They’re both incredible books that I recommend, and bring a depth to the topic of food and fasting and nutrients. So here’s where I want to zone in on the nutrient part for you guys. We talk on all of my podcasts, we have spoken so much about everything from how to heal hormones to how to use nature to bring cortisol down. And what I really want to dive into with Rob is helped me understand something as simple as sodium, potassium and magnesium. How do these three electrolytes affect our brain health? How do they affect our moods? How do they affect our energy, and he brings the biochemistry to explain it and help you guys understand. The other thing I want to dive into because he’s a fan of protein. I want to know more like how much protein, what type of protein, when should we eat protein? So we dove into amino acids? Does our microbiome make enough amino acids that we don’t need as much protein? As we’ve been taught? These are all questions that we answered. Now, when you listen to rob, one of the things that he is known for is being controversial, he is going to offer a perspective that many people do not hear. And it was such a deep art a conversation that we actually are splitting it into two episodes. So please listen to them both. If you learn something from it, if it gives you a depth on how to think about nutrition, at a whole new level that you did not have prior to listening to these episodes, please share them out into the world. One thing that Robin I really agree upon, is we want to help people think at a deeper level about their health. And conversations like this can transform the way we approach food and fasting. So this is part one. Enjoy Rob Wolf, and stay tuned for part two, you guys are gonna love this one. Hey, receptors. Hopefully you all know, I’ve been thinking deeply about the world’s immune system lately. I really feel like as we entered into 2020, we had a world full of immune compromised people. And we just weren’t really aware of that. And so I’ve been looking for the last year for products that are going to help support our immune system. And once again, Organa phi has delivered, they have a new product called immunity, and it’s a powder. And the beautiful thing is that it’s keto friendly. And let me explain this because they have a lot of the nutrients that many of us before we came to the ketogenic diet, probably lean towards some juices like orange juice. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I grew up in the family where you had a glass of orange juice in the morning to support your immune system. Well, just because orange juice spikes your blood sugar doesn’t mean that there aren’t nutrients in it that will help support a healthy immune system. So what Organa FIDE did is they came up with a powder that is keto friendly, has all the nutrients that you would get in orange juice and many other juices that nature can provide us but you don’t get the sugar. So it’s called immunity. It’s amazing as far as the taste goes Organa fries nailed the taste. And you can get 20% off by using the coupon that we love to share with you and Organa phi has so generously given to my community
it is Organa phi.com forward slash pills. And that is Organa phi. Let me spell it for you, O R G, a nifi.com, forward slash Pells P E LZ. And they will give you 20% off, let me know what you think. Here’s my little first question for you is, why the heck do we need electrolytes so badly, I’m just I’m blown away at sit watching so many people fast and watching so many people have like their hair fall out, they have heart palpitations, they hit walls with fasting. And what I’ve come to realize is that there is this imbalance of electrolytes in the human body right now. So explain why that why we need it and why are so many people deficient.
Robb Wolf 6:10
Yeah, and you know, maybe I will throw myself under the bus first before throwing you under the bus set in. And so you know, we’re both fairly spelt so we’ll both fit under the bus. But if somebody goes on a low carb ketogenic diet, usually there’s a ton of focus on protein, carbs, fats, and don’t make Lau your carbs to go above this, this particular level and whatnot. And there is absolutely no discussion typically of electrolytes, specifically sodium. But if we are put placed on a medically supervised ketogenic diet, you know, for like epilepsy or adjunctive, cancer therapy, or what have you, that doctor that dietitian will make absolutely dead certain that the individual gets at least five grams of sodium a day, sometimes double that, because those folks are savvy to this concept called the nature resist of fasting, the loss of sodium associated with fasting, and as individual. So within popular, you know, low carb diet, lower, which I’ve been in that scene for, like 23 years, I was never afraid of sodium I had done my research on I’m like, that isn’t the problem hyperinsulinemia refined carbohydrates to many calories, those are the problems. But I didn’t fully appreciate how critical it was to, if one wants to eat low carb or just less refined food, we really need to address electrolytes, in particular sodium. And so that just isn’t something that’s part of the common discussion within low carb arenas. And within fasting, I would say it borders on a dumpster fire to be honest, because I have people who it becomes this badge of honor almost like sleep deprivation, it’s like, well, if you just try harder than the heart palpitations, the loss of hair, the disordered sleep, and all the rest of this stuff will kind of sort itself out. And, you know, when when we think about what things are really important to be monitored from a physiological perspective, like, if you were I ended up unconscious after being under the bus, you know, being pitched under the under the bus. And we ended up in an emergency room, the emergency room physician would look at two things straight out of the gate. The first is pH and the other is electrolytes. Because those two are the two most tightly regulated things in our, in our physiology, and if our pH goes up or down too much, for too long, we will get sick or we will die. If our electrolyte gets get become disordered too much or for too long, we will get sick and we will die. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to do that. And the the loss of sodium associated with fasting is jaw dropping, particularly if somebody is going from kind of a mixed standard American diet and then they they cut everything out. They’re just doing water and you know, three days into that experience. They are shedding water and sodium and then like crazy, and we have to have a balance between sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and all these other electrolytes. And typically we have sodium in higher concentrations outside of cells, potassium and higher concentrations inside of cells. When we start dumping sodium like crazy, then our body will start dumping potassium to try to maintain that balance because if we don’t have the relative ratio correct, then we every single nerve impulse in our body every thought every heartbeat, every muscle contraction stops. So our body starts then dumping potassium and this is where people end up in a downward spiral very, very quickly, and they can die from it. They will feel horrible beforehand. And usually they will do something to fix things. But occasionally folks are knuckleheads. And they’re like, Well, I’m really going to muscle through this thing. And, you know, my guru told me I should do this, I should do that. And I mean, I don’t know if I fully addressed what you know the question there. But when individuals begin fasting, when they reduce carbohydrate intake, insulin levels drop, insulin manages a hormone called all dosterone, all dosterone causes us to retain sodium. So under normal circumstances, we have this kind of homeostatic balance, insulin, aldosterone, sodium are all kind of in in a dynamic equilibrium and our blood pressure is normal. We go from seated to standing and we don’t get dizzy, we don’t have super high heart rate, you know, just trying to breathe and stuff like that. And then when we begin fasting, our insulin levels drop all dosterone drops. And then we begin shedding sodium and water, and then eventually potassium and water and it embarks on this really terrible downward spiral, which can be life threatening. Absolutely.
Dr. Mindy 11:12
Yeah. And I want to address that in one second. Let’s go back to the potassium thing. So a lot of what I see a lot in fasters is restless legs. It’s like the ache and I hear a lot people will ask questions like, well, I can’t sleep at night, my legs are aching, my low back is aching. I’ve seen some research connecting restless legs with low potassium. So a lot of muscle. Not atrophy but agitation and nerve pain can come from low potassium it Do you think that’s why?
Robb Wolf 11:45
Yeah, but the way that they got there is their sodium plummeted, and then the body started dumping potassium to try to balance the sodium, potassium, the most horrible thing that the person could do in that scenario is to start dosing on potassium. Like,
Dr. Mindy 12:01
okay, explain why
Robb Wolf 12:03
they will die from it. The like a lethal injection is a super concentrated solution of potassium because it causes the heart to cramp one last time, okay. And without sodium without calcium and whatnot to reverse that, then this thing is a, it’s funny, it’s a really difficult thing to unpack all this stuff, because modern diets are really potassium deficient, without a doubt. But people are mainly eating prodigious amounts of processed foods, I think there was just a study that suggested greater than, like 70% of the food consumed in the United States is now considered hyper processed. So it’s, you know, stuff that you would use, do you expect it only to see in like a 711. And now this, this is like the basis of the diet, but these things are sodium rich, typically in potassium depleted. So that’s absolutely a problem. But then when we flip around, and we have people fasting and eating, you know, whole food based diets, then they’re typically very potassium rich if we’re eating real food, but then we’re sodium depleted. But the you know, without a doubt, folks can get into a dangerous scenario in which they are potassium depleted, but it’s potassium depletion on the heels of sodium depletion, and it’s worth mentioning that people can over consume a remarkable amount of sodium, and they may gain a little bit of water weight, but within 20 minutes to an hour, the kidneys are really adept at sorting out, overconsumption of sodium, overconsumption of potassium, particularly in highly concentrated form, or if anybody knows someone who is on dialysis or something like that, you have to be remarkably careful about the amount of potassium that that one consumes because that will kill you. overconsumption of sodium is much less dangerous and overconsumption of potassium. But I feel like an idiot saying that because almost nobody over consumes potassium as well, because they’re eating super processed foods. But this is where we have to be very nuanced and compartmentalize this stuff really succinctly because what are our neighbor who is eating a terrible little, you know, highly processed diet and they are not fasting, what might be appropriate for that person is an avocado or banana, the person who is fasting and they are in a hyponatremia state, low sodium state, and they’ve dumped a bunch of potassium to boot. They need sodium first night because once you start getting sodium then the body will retain the potassium that it comes in contact with, and it will start rebuilding that equilibrium.
Dr. Mindy 14:50
So if you go from standard American diet or Western diet, I should probably call it now because it’s it’s our it’s everywhere. We’ve taken our horrible food everywhere. And now you move to a clean diet where you’re eating like from farmer’s markets and you’re getting you’re going back to nature’s foods. Can you make that assumption that your sodium levels have probably gone down? And it would be smart to add in something like sea salt? Is it that simple?
Robb Wolf 15:21
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Um, I will say for a lot of people salting their food is not enough, ultimately. And we can gauge that based off of symptoms like foggy headedness, fatigue, cramping, things like that. But at a minimum, when, when in, you know, I can’t remember the name of the YouTube channel, but it’s this guy in Azerbaijan. And he lives in this beautiful area, and he cooks virtually all of his food outside, like it’s like the outdoor cook or something, and it’s just stunning stuff. But what you notice is this guy, it’s like a lot of meat, a lot of like root vegetables and because they live in this mountainous area, and it’s salt on everything, like they salt, the meat, they salt, the vegetables, they salt their tea, when they’re drinking tea, they put a little pinch of salt in their tea, because they live at elevation, they have a you know, they’re not like low carb, but they’re not eating any processed carbs, right and they just instinctively like really salt the heck out of their their food, their tea, everything. I’ll try to pull this thing down one it’s just breathtaking cinematography. Oh, yeah, I’d love to know that bootiful but um, you know this, when you look at traditional cultures that if they can get access to a lot of salt, they typically put a lot of salt in their their diet, traditional Japanese diets, Okinawan diets, like they typically have a lot of sodium in the mix of an otherwise whole food minimally processed diet, the real challenge starts emerging when we have a nutrient devoid highly processed diet plus a lot sodium.
Dr. Mindy 17:03
Yeah. Okay. I think that’s such a powerful explanation. Because again, I’m going to say when I brought element to my fasters, the first question I got was, why is there so much sodium in it. And I want to point out that what I just heard from you is, if you’re going from Western diet, to a clean whole foods diet, and then to fasting, you’re probably not going to feel the effects of the electrolyte imbalance as much. This is my interpretation of what you said. Whereas if you go straight from Western diet, now I’m going to throw in some fasting and you don’t take that intermittent step, that that’s where we may see more of these electrolytes go down, would that be fair? Or
Robb Wolf 17:41
you will feel it worse, but I mean, it this is the condition is the nature resists of fasting when people begin, so no matter how I got it, correct, yeah. Okay. And this is why and, you know, sometimes people motor through and they, they get through it, and you know, these extended water only fast but it one medically, I would, I would argue if one participates in a medically supervised fast one is administered significant amounts of electrolytes, specifically sodium so that we avoid all these problems, I would say that people are playing with fire, by from a medical perspective, not addressing these basic electrolyte issues. And you know, I’m as, as critical and cranky of kind of modern medicine is anybody you could find. But emergency medicine borders on the miraculous, you should work with pH imbalances, electrolyte imbalances, you’ve been shot, you’ve been run over by a bus, you know, whatever. It’s miraculous in the acute phase. And so I think one would be really foolish to dismiss the way that that like, acute level fasting is managed in a medical, you know, setting and Ryan, they address those electrolytes because there’s no downside to doing it like that, you know, you feel better, you don’t feel so awful, you typically sleep better, you have better energy levels. And the upside is that you don’t die. You don’t end up hospitalized for you know, disordered electrolytes. So, right seems like a real easy, you know, cost benefit analysis on that. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy 19:24
Okay. So I think this is super important, because what I saw so last week, we did with our community, a three day water fast, and it was all on a public platform. So these people are self monitoring, you know, they’re there, I show them what to do, and they go and do it. But you know, a lot of them don’t have doctor’s supervision, and they did it really successfully. And the number one thing that I saw in hundreds of 1000s of comments was, oh, my gosh, element saved me. It was a thing that got me through. And so it was so ironic that was talking to you today. because that went down last week, and I’m like, why did that happen? And my next question to you, is it only in the longer fasts that we need to add in these the our electrolytes? Or what if I’m intermittent fasting 15 hours every day? What if I’m doing one meal a day? Like, where is it always? Should I be doing a packet a day? Like how do I know how much is right for me?
Robb Wolf 20:24
So the dosing question is, ironically, like the most difficult question to to answer, are you a six foot six male who plays hockey Are you a five foot two female who’s a computer programmer and spends the bulk of the time indoors in a temperature controlled environment, like there’s just massive variation on that, that that side of things, um, we tend to bracket and we have some some reasoning behind this, somewhere between five grams of sodium a day from all sources, dietary sources, supplemental sources, all the way up to 12 to 15 grams of sodium per day, depending on the person. So we’ve done some work with strength and conditioning coaches that manage hockey players, National Hockey League, players, big dudes, lots of activity, even though they’re on ice, like that gear is very, very hot. These big guys will lose 10 pounds of water and 10 grams of sodium in a two hour game. And in a in a crisis, just from their sweat. You know, we’ve seen small females that are competing in the CrossFit Games, type stuff that need 15 grams of sodium a day, because they’re super high motor output, the their recovery is improved. They’re outside in direct sunlight, maybe a little bit of humidity. So we tend to recommend that most folks so long as they’re not hypertensive, they’re not insulin resistant, that somewhere around five grams of sodium per day is is like a bare minimum period, like across the board. And again, we’re not suggesting that you do that all from elements like olives, pickles, salami, sardines, you know, it’s really aggressively salting your food as well, that can add a lot to things 1010 kalamata olives provide a gram of sodium like that’s an easy way to tick one, you know, 1/5 of your your sodium box. tastes delicious. They’re full of poly. Even.
Dr. Mindy 22:32
Yeah, they’re the hero. I’ve decided that the olive is the hero of the day.
Robb Wolf 22:35
Yeah, like Yeah, without a doubt. Better than avocado is when you get right down to it. Yeah,
Dr. Mindy 22:40
it has so much fat it’s like it has no calories. So like with like, when we started doing fast mimicking, I was teaching fast mimicking for a little while. And it was like, oh my god, everybody was going to olives because it had no calories. It was all fat had no carbs. And we just have learned in my household we until I discovered element. I was like popping olives all the time, just and it made me feel so good. So I know that you say that.
Robb Wolf 23:05
So yeah, so it’s hard to give an exact number for people because it varies a lot, but somewhere between five and potentially as high as 15 grams, but the the 15 grams is for like athletes or super high motor. People in a hot humid environment. Altitude, if somebody did significant altitude, like 1000 feet or higher mountaineering or just hanging out that really increases electrolyte needs, but it’s difficult. I can’t just I can way more easily say, Okay, you’re a five foot four female 130 pounds, you need this much protein, carbs and fat, like I can do that pretty quick and easy and be within 5% of Yeah, being accurate. On the sodium and electrolyte side, there’s much more variation because there there’s a lot more going on there.
Dr. Mindy 23:55
Okay, so if you are an athlete, that sweated a lot and then you’re going to go fast, you probably are going to need more if you’re a larger man and you’re going too fast you’re probably going to need more so looking at your behavior and how much you’re excreting these electrolytes would be a good indicator as to how much you would need going into a fast would that be accurate
Robb Wolf 24:18
in i i I acknowledged that it’s self serving for the guy who owns the electrolyte company to say yeah, that’s okay. But but you know, that said we have a free homebrew deal. So if people don’t want to buy it, we have a homebrew guide. So this much salt this much no salt this much. Magnesium citrate, some lemon juice stevia make it yourself and we the whole company was founded where we gave away this homebrew guide. And within six months, we had a half million downloads of it. And then people started asking for basically what element is but here’s the thing. I am still surprised by how much sodium folks benefit from, right, I feel better, their performance is better, their recovery is better. And so it. And again, we’d like to see as much of that come from dietary sources as we can. But at the at the end of the day, you know, something like a beverage like I’m doing some coffee with a little bit of cream, and then a chocolate salt element in here. And so I’ll sip on that over the course of a couple hours and it tastes great and, and I feel much better with that. And then when I go to jujitsu, I won’t be dragging, you know, I’m kind of salt loading before doing jujitsu later in the afternoon. Yeah,
Dr. Mindy 25:39
so explain the sodium myth of everybody. You know, the first reaction our community had when we brought element to them was Whoa, like, isn’t that gonna raise my blood pressure? Like, I feel like we have this sodium myth that needs to be debunked? Why does sodium not raise blood pressure, you’ve talked a lot about why it’s so good. But I just want for all the skeptics out there to understand there’s more to the sodium story than they’ve been taught
Robb Wolf 26:06
what the sodium can and does raise blood pressure, but we need context. If you are fasting, and you’re experiencing almost hypovolemic shock, when you go from seated to standing, and you almost pass out, you need to raise your blood pressure a bit, if your heart is beating out of your chest because of low blood volume, and you’re getting cardiac arrhythmias because your your heart is working overtime, just sitting that you need elevated blood pressure, like you’re going to benefit from that. Where we need to be careful is if somebody is insulin resistant, borderline diabetic, and they’re what’s called a sodium sensitive hyper responder, they can get a significant increase in their their blood pressure from a large bolus of sodium like they they do a Mexican meal or a Chinese food meal or something that’s got three grams 3000 milligrams of sodium in it, and that, you know, that can be a problem. But the problem isn’t really the sodium The problem is the food that the person is eating that is making them insulin resistant. In the first place. One of the the key benefits of both fasting and any type of a lower carb diet or a, you know, a lower process carb diet, is it people lose a bunch of water weight, that water weight is there high blood pressure, they’re literally peeing their high blood pressure away. And it’s it’s worth mentioning in this this story. There have been a lot of very well conducted studies where they will put in hypertensive individuals, folks with high blood pressure on low or no sodium diets and their blood pressure barely comes down at all. So low sodium diets don’t necessarily fix the problem. Low carb diets. And interestingly, fasting like that is low carb diets bring down blood pressure in most individuals with hypertension. Fasting brings down blood pressure in all hypertensive individuals every single time, because of this thing called the nature resist fasting play, you know, it is the big hammer that will address this. Now the thing is people can’t fast forever, like you do have to eat again. And we have to establish some sort of a reasonable eating schedule around that. And for some people, it’s omad. For other people, it’s low carb or you know what constraint feeding we window or whatever, but some degree of insulin management almost universally addresses that hypertensive problem. So sodium is a problem in certain circumstances. And it is absolutely this the only solution in all these other circumstances. So, again, it’s really important to recognize what we have going on there. And, you know, truth be told, there was a study released maybe six years ago that suggested that fewer than 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy, right? So it’s not surprising that, you know, for a lot of people, it’s like, well, we really should address your diet to, you know, get this thing going. But the interesting thing with that people change their diet, they implement some fasting or some time restricted eating, they feel like garbage, and then they abandon the process. Part of the reason why they feel like garbage is that their sodium levels are low. So you know, it kind of circles back on that a great way to facilitate people staying on these programs. It’s already hard to do these things. It’s kind of socially isolating. It’s a challenge any way but make someone feel horrible in in the meantime, make them feel like they’ve had the worst hangover of their life and it’s going on day after day after day. That’s a really big ask for somebody to continue with that. But if we just address those electrolytes then typically things normalize and I guess the one final thought on that is if people are really concerned about blood pressure, get a 15 or $20 blood pressure cuff from the local pharmacy ordered off online. Take your blood pressure intermittently throughout the day before taking something like element after taking it and just kind of see what your blood pressure is doing it’s really easy process to document that.
Dr. Mindy 30:12
One of the things that I’ve noticed in fasting hundreds of 1000s of people is that we as a human race are incredibly mineral deficient. And a large part of that is coming because our soils, the food that our soils are growing in, are incredibly depleted, especially here in America. But up b throughout the world, we’re seeing that soils are not having the same mineral rich content that they did years ago. We also know that if you’re an athlete, and you sweat a lot, that you’re going to deplete your minerals, if you’ve been using any kind of drugs or alcohol that they deplete minerals. And minerals are really strange because they have this subtle, yet powerful effect on our brain and our body. So things like depression and anxiety have been linked to mineral deficiencies. Not being able to sleep can be linked to a mineral deficiency. So in fasting hundreds of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of people, I’ve really noticed that the world is mineral deficient, which is why I am constantly looking for mineral resources. And element has done an incredible job with their products. So if you’re not familiar with elements, they are a mineral packet, you can put it in your water as you’re going throughout your day, they will keep you in a fasted state. And they have you really yummy flavors. The the new ones that I’m pretty excited about are watermelon and grapefruit. But a house favorite is the berry, the citrus salt and the lime. So check out element if you go to drink element. So let me spell it for you. Because it’s a little tricky play on word words I actually say element T or element depending on how you want to say it. So the website is drink element. So d r i n PE l m n t.com forward slash Mindy Pels. And if you go, we’ll also leave the link in the in the notes below. But if you go and you check out their website, they will give you a discount. And let me know what your favorite flavor is. I was just thinking to myself, you know that if there’s anything we learned from 2020, and 2021, is that humans can do hard things, you know, who would have thought masking up and quarantine people that we could do that. So I agree with you that when going into these longer fasts is hard. But again, this is why I love your product. And I love that you guys have a home recipe, I think that’s great as well. But fasting, the research on fasting is so impressive as far as the metabolic changes it can make. And when I look at the food industry, and I go, gosh, that is a big beast to take down and they are going to keep putting garbage in our ingredients. But if I could get people to just take their garbage food and compress it into an one eating window and elongate their fasting window, okay, now, we were actually making some metabolic process. But I agree that the hurdle becomes Okay, what do we do when they feel bad? Because, you know, I agree that we don’t like to feel bad. But I mean, I’ve talked to so many fasters to get on the other side of that. And they’re just like, this is the most incredible tool I’ve ever found. So yeah, so one of the things I heard on sodium, I’m curious what and I think I heard this and what you were saying is that if insulin is high, and sodium is high, now we have a problem. Would you agree?
Robb Wolf 33:53
Yeah, yeah. And chronically elevated insulin, you know, which is is usually facilitated by a highly processed diet where, you know, and this is where like the macronutrient wars, like the low carb people say it’s all carbs, the low fat people say it’s all it’s all fat. The, the things that people tend to overeat are fat carb combos that are, you know, massaged and managed in such a way to, to, to be hyper palatable. That’s what my whole second book was about was the neuro regulation of appetite, you know, and just getting these really complex palette experiences. Um, that is a guarantee of overeating. And then one of the things also that makes food taste better is sodium, you know, so I mean, it’s a key ingredient in processed food. So there’s kind of a guilt by association thing there but sodium makes whole you know, like if you’re doing some brussel sprouts, you know, when you cook them in some olive oil, and you put some balsalmic you know, vinegar in it and reduce Sit and carmelize it, that’s going to be pretty good. But man, you threw some salts on top of that, and now it’s magic. And it would have been, you know, totally blase with with you know, without that sodium on it, so it improves good food and it improves highly processed food too.
Dr. Mindy 35:16
I’m gonna quote you on that when I eat dinner next time the the salt container sits right by my by my meal every, every time my son and I we pass it back and forth. And you know, the the, the chronic statement of any guests that’s at our dinner table is like, Wow, you guys eat a lot of salts. And my response is, yeah, you should our blood pressure is great. Like our health is awesome. Like we’re living examples that eating the right salt with the right diet combined with fasting is working for us, right? So but but the belief is salt is still going to cause high blood pressure. So I appreciate the explanation. It is
Robb Wolf 35:53
definitely not the cause it is a factor in the story. But again, it for individuals that are sodium sensitive hyper responders, they are typically insulin resistant. And even sodium restriction doesn’t necessarily help that much. Now, eating a ton of salt on top of that doesn’t make things better. But super severe sodium restriction also doesn’t really change things all that much like you really have to fundamentally change the diet and circadian rhythm and all that type of stuff. Yeah, right. Yeah. Okay. Let’s
Dr. Mindy 36:26
talk about magnesium. And thank you for that for the sodium discussion. Because again, we’ve been getting a lot of questions on that I wanted to give people a resource for that. But let’s talk about magnesium. That is the other one that I feel like you could give magnesium to every human on the planet, but especially women, and especially menopausal women, you give them magnesium, and their life changes. What is it that is so powerful about magnesium? And why are we missing magnesium so much in our diet,
Robb Wolf 36:53
magnesium gets complex in again, not to overly beat the drum of sodium. But if we have adequate sodium, we tend to retain the magnesium we have if we are deficient in sodium, then we tend to excrete more magnesium. So this is another, they work in common thing that we work in there, we need adequate levels of vitamin D, everybody thinks about vitamin D as it relates to calcium with vitamin D. and magnesium metabolism is really important. So it starts getting very holistic rather quickly. You need to adequate stomach acid to absorb magnesium and calcium. So you know, so there’s lots of different layers where this stuff can kind of
Dr. Mindy 37:35
vitamin C, what vitamin D levels. Sorry to interrupt you. I just curious what vitamin D levels do you feel are good for people.
Robb Wolf 37:41
I like to refer folks to Chris master John’s work on this because he breaks it down by kind of ethnicity. You know, so if you’re African American versus Asian versus northern Indian, he has some some data that makes the case that like Caucasians probably benefit from, you know, anywhere from like, 65 to 75. But, you know, with that, that level, African Americans may legitimately be at their optimum more in the 40 to 60. And so I really like referring it. I know enough about that to recommend go check out Chris. Yeah, yeah, no, we’ll put stuff on that. Yeah. But I would say that that varies from person to person, I would increase make this point to, it is critically important to get adequate k two, in addition to the D, three, D, Vitamin D causes us to retain calcium, it doesn’t necessarily tell it where to go. And if we have inadequate Ketu in the diet, it could go into our vascular endothelial and accelerate atherosclerosis could do all kinds of things that we would prefer not to do. Right he kind of tells the body where to partition it more in the bones and whatnot. But the the magnesium deficiency is a big deal. A magnesium does this kind of interesting trick or facilitates ATP in the body because of the way it kind of coordinates the ATP molecule. The the magnesium is a to charge to metal ion and just to associate you with ATP in this way that kind of facilitates the enzymatic breakdown. So if people are low energy, if they’re if they’re having kind of lethargy and fatigue, this inadequate magnesium can definitely be a factor there. It’s critical and muscle contractions. It’s critical and a host of different enzyme systems. So it is you know, really broad ranging application and diets in general are depleted of magnesium. People tend to have low stomach acid consuming, you know, so like if you have a metal magnesium rich meal, but you consume it with some dairy sometimes like the dairy proteins or can associate with the magnesium and make it difficult to absorb. So his dad gets into all kinds of crazy food, combining stuff, but you know, it can be challenging to get adequate magnesium, for sure. But we, you know, with element, we looked at folks that were consuming about 300 people that were consuming a low carb, but minimally processed whole food diet. And what we found was that they got from, from our perspective, adequate calcium, a little skinny on magnesium, pretty, you know, a little bit shorter on potassium, and then really, really deficient in sodium. And so that’s the way that we stratified out that a gram of sodium, 200 milligrams of potassium, and then 60 milligrams of magnesium. So we just put a little pinch of the magnesium in there. And we use the magnesium mainly because it’s much more absorbable than most the other forms. Yeah,
Dr. Mindy 40:58
amazing. So I have to ask this question, because I become a skeptic on any like, one size fits all sort of approaches to anything, whether it’s food life of any kind. And I’ve been noticing with all the factors that we have that women really need to fast differently. And that’s been a large part of what I’ve been really educating people on. So do women need to do mineral electrolytes different? Do we need to look at how we approach element different? Do we need to look at it different at different times of our cycle? Do we need more of these minerals, like intellect or electrolytes, like after our period? These are these are questions that I know women will ask me,
Robb Wolf 41:38
I and my honest answer is I don’t know, I don’t think that it’s going to be that different male versus female, in like the basic needs, like I don’t think that there’s going to be an intersex difference that’s significant. That’s any greater than me versus, you know, just human being versus human being. Now that said, women are much more rapid in showing nutrient deficiency problems, so over, over aggressive calorie restriction, over aggressive, really, really calorie restriction at the end of the day. But the another interesting thing with that when we look at all these things, kind of like adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, and whatnot, can make a really strong case that inadequate sodium is likely a big driver in those stories. So like, when we see women undergo ketogenic diets, some degree of fasting and what not, so long as his sodium is adequate, we really get a blunting of that kind of downward spiral where we see like hair loss and the person getting really cold, and all that type of stuff. But biology just has a much finer trigger for women. Because if we’re in a nutrient deficient scenario, that’s not a great time to be pregnant, that’s not a great time to be, you know, potentially raising your next offspring. So women will respond to that much more rapidly and profoundly than what we would see with men, men may end up you know, some low libido or something like that. But it’s kind of like, I don’t know how to even know that versus becoming a man or re IQ and, and whatnot. Like, that’s, that’s clearly a much more profound change. So again, I don’t know if I fully answered that question. I don’t know, to what degree it’s gonna vary, you know, based off of like, what part of the cycle like I think day to day activity level and temperature is going to be way more impactful than, than say, like, cycles specific. Yeah,
Dr. Mindy 43:51
I was. I had a really interesting conversation yesterday with Dr. Laura Bryden. She’s, you know, I’m sure you know, you’ve crossed her path before and she was talking, we were talking about perimenopause, and how when the hormones decline during the peri menopausal years, that the brain has to reboot itself and it has to get accustom to the decline of hormones, which is why women going through perimenopause can be so irritable, they we can have some anxiety is it and she’s like, what happens is it once you get to the other side of menopause, that it has now recalibrated and it knows how to handle these low hormones. So I asked her what nutrient would help a woman as she goes through this recalibration process and she said magnesium, magnesium and taurine were the two that she recommended. And again, I’m going to say I feel like I could line up 1000s of perimenopause and menopause, all women and put them all on different forms of magnesium and they’d come back and say, I feel better. So that’s so it’s there. To my brain is there some hormone magnesium connection there for women, I just maybe it’s more coming from fluctuating hormones or a decline in hormones. But there’s something there, I just haven’t dove into the science.
Robb Wolf 45:11
Yeah, I don’t know what I mean, there are folks that are pretty geeked out on the notion of like bioidentical hormones that they will, they will try to replicate that, that more youthful hormonal profile, both for men and women. And I see some pretty remarkable benefits, you know, from from that path too. But you know, magnesium is just one of these Keystone nutrients. And it’s very easy to have it depleted the modern diet, I think that is, to some degree, why it just pops up again. And again. And again, when you think about its role in just energy production. If you want to make hormones, you have to manufacture ATP, if you want to go for a run, you have to manufacture ATP. If you want to write a book and think big thoughts, you have to manufacture ATP. So I mean, like it, you know, if, you know, if you think about the operation of a home, it’s run off of electricity, for the most part, if I want to run the blender, and the power is bad, that’s not really going to work. Well, if I want my pump to pump water into my holding tank, that’s not going to work well. And then if I can’t pump water into my holding tank, then my toilets aren’t going to flush and my shower won’t work, you know. So energy production is is really this major it is it is kind of what defines life from non life, you know, is the ability to to take inorganic molecules and extract energy out of them and use them as substrates to drive the processes of life. So if you had something like magnesium, that’s a lynchpin element in energy production, and something is off with that, then everything’s gonna be broken. You know, like, if we have intermittent electricity in the house, everything’s gonna be screwy. And so if we have intermittent energy production in the body, and it may be something else it may may be related to something else, but I could I could make the case that just simply creating problems for energy production is enough for buggering everything else that a person has going on.
Dr. Mindy 47:16
So fascinate again, I’m going back if you if you ever get a chance go on to my Instagram and read all the the miracle people were like element saved me element save me. And of course, my science brain was like, Why? Why did it? I mean, I love your guys product. I was like, Why did it do that so well. So it was pretty profound. And now this makes a lot of sense. So is there ever a time you need to think about not taking this amount of men have electrolytes? Like is there some is there for anybody that you wouldn’t want to pick up? Extra electrolytes?
Robb Wolf 47:50
Yeah, the sodium sensitive hyper responder Perry diabetic, insulin resistant individual would not benefit from. So if I’m sodium, they’re, they’re retaining a ton of sodium already. What that person really needs to do though, is modify their diet Kadian rhythm, exercise and all that stuff. But to date, that’s about the only person I could think of someone on dialysis, they would definitely want to run it by their their doctor, make sure that they’re okay. Usually potassium is the bigger mineral of concern relative to sodium, but element does have non trivial amounts of potassium. So I would run that by dialysis. And then like the known hypertensive individual, like they know they have over a high blood pressure. But again, they The interesting thing is the person with high blood pressure is unlikely to have the type of symptoms that we typically see with the nature resist of fasting, but as soon as they start fasting or low carbing, or whatever, then they’re going to need more more sodium. But you know, that’s probably the only folks that I could think of that would I would really caution against using it.
Dr. Mindy 49:11
Hey, receptors, I just want to start off by saying thank you so much for all your wonderful reviews. And those of you that have left me comments on iTunes. I just greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and how much you guys are enjoying these episodes. And it seems like you’re enjoying them as much as I am enjoying doing them. One of the things that I’ve learned in just interacting with so many people is that we’ve really lost the art of deep conversations. And for me, the recenter podcast stands for having meaningful conversations with people who are thinking about health, about life about mindset in a way that we may not be getting on social media or in mainstream media. And so I just want to say give you guys a shout out and just say thank you for participating in this process with me. Because as much as I absolutely love delivering the information to you, I love even more knowing that it’s impacting your life. So please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make this podcast more customized to you to make it better. We are now officially in season two. And we are working to bring you the best conversations that health influencers have that mindset changers can give and to really deliver you something that you’re not able to get anywhere else. So from the bottom of my heart, as I always say my YouTube from the bottom of my heart. I am deeply appreciative of you. I am deeply grateful to be on this journey with you and Let’s Get Healthy Together.
// RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Feel the impact of Organifi – use code PELZ for a discount on all products!
- LMNT Electrolytes
- LMNT Home Brew Guide
- Book: Sacred Cow
- More information on Vitamin D Levels
- Longevity, are we trying too hard?
- Book: Economics
I was surprised at the level of the “sky is falling” type of talk. If this were as dire as he expressed, there would be dead faster everywhere. Processed foods are certainly bad, but people that are in the fasting life are far less in danger than the rest of the world.
He never said that a lot of people were dying from fasting with too little sodium. He simply said it could threaten your life, which I’ve heard from others as well. It certainly has long-term benefits, but getting enough electrolytes is key. I’ve had the keto flu and that alone makes me want to get enough electrolytes. I could tell something was wrong.